My blueberry bushes are about 5 years old. They have some limbs that look dead but have many leaves on them. Some limbs have grown in a curve sideways. They are about 1 inch round. Should I cut them back? I have new shoots that came up this summer.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Kathy: I hope your blueberries have been productive for you the past few years. Pruning is important in terms of fruit size and quantity as well as air circulation. Proper pruning will help to invigorate your plants and keep them happy, which will provide more fruit for you to enjoy. The best time to prune is while they are dormant from February through early spring before bud break. Pruning at other times of the year can decrease your crop. The larger, older canes that have the leaves on them are using more energy than the smaller new canes, so they should be pruned out. They can be taken back all the way to the ground. Any cane that is more than 1 inch in diameter is going to be less productive, so they should be removed. This will allow for better air movement and the energy can be concentrated on the younger canes that will provide you with more fruit. You will also want to prune out any crossing canes. For more information on growing blueberries in Kentucky, visit www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/ho/ho60/ho60.htm. This is a publication available to home gardeners from the Cooperative Extension Service in collaboration with the University of Kentucky and other land grant schools.